ALONE; the national organisation that enables older people to age at home as well as providing support and befriending services, advocacy and support has received seed funding from Mental Health Reform to gauge if video counselling for older people is a suitable solution for some individuals who require mental health support from home.
This pilot programme began in October 2023. In order to access the online counselling service from home, each participant needed a device which ALONE provided; if the older person didn’t have one already.
Helplink Mental Health has been providing online counselling for over ten years nationally and internationally and is delighted to have been chosen as the partner to provide weekly online counselling appointments for older people in the comfort of their own homes.
This is the first pilot of its kind from ALONE; for older persons!
The aim of the pilot programme is to:
- To support older people to access the mental health, psychosocial and/or dementia services they need in the comfort of their homes through technology over the period of the pilot.
- To trial a three-way introductory call to include the participant, the ALONE Support
Coordinator and the Helplink Counsellor
- To evaluate video communication as a means to support the mental health of the participants
The predicted benefits and outcomes for the participants:
- Meet the needs of the participants in the area of mental health support
- Remove both the transport and cost barrier from online counselling which are reasons why some have not been able to access counselling to date
- Learn to use Zoom which is a tool used for many online services and supports and can complement counselling for example accessing online support groups
- Participants who require a device will be provided one and will thus reap the benefits of internet access including cognitive development, social connectivity and independence.
ALONE and Helplink are looking forward to addressing a gap in service provision where older individuals cannot currently access services outside the home due to lack of service availability locally and/or carer commitments.
Quotes about the pilot service from the three organisations:
ALONE CEO, Seán Moynihan commented “It is a pleasure to be involved with Helplink Mental Health for this Video Counselling programme for Older People. We know from our own work that new technologies can and do play a huge part in the services that we offer, so it is crucial for older people to engage with technology as much as possible, where appropriate. This pilot will be a particularly positive thing for those who are living rurally and struggle to access mental health facilities. We know that during the pandemic 7 in 10 older people suffered from feeling loneliness very often, and as we emerge from that difficult time we must look for enterprising ways to address this issue, which is why we are proud to launch this pilot programme.”
Interim CEO Róisín Clarke of mental Health Reform says “We are delighted to partner with ALONE for this unique pilot programme to provide online counselling to Older People. Our mission is to provide accessible mental health services locally, nationally, and internationally. Partnering with ALONE for this project has allowed our counselling team to reach Older People who often experience barriers in accessing mental health services.”
CEO of Helplink Mental Health Lochlann Scott relates “This is a fantastic partnership between ALONE, Mental Health Reform and Helplink, as it has created a great opportunity for some of the most vulnerable in our communities to receive evidenced based mental health support from the comfort of their own homes. We know, from our many years of providing accessible mental health supports, both on and off line, that accessibility to services is the key to getting people the support they need; where and when they want it”.